Book it to the Bank
How do you teach your children about money? When’s the right time, and what’s the best way to do it? Like many aspects of parenting, there is no one right answer. It’s important to teach skills like saving and budgeting early, but financial topics can seem hard for children to grasp. However, there’s no reason why you can’t make lessons about money a part of your child’s life! And Ally Bank has created a book to help you do just that.
Titled Planet Zeee and the Money Tree, this free book from Ally Bank is available to download, print or share! The story follows three aliens named Zara, Zach, and Zoey, who come from a planet where nobody works and money grows on trees. However, nobody ever taught them the importance of budgeting or saving, and soon they spend all the money on their planet. They leave in search of more money trees and arrive at Earth, where they meet Emma, Jack, and James. The human children tell the aliens that they are hurting the trees by pulling the leaves off of them, and that instead of using leaves as money, they can get jobs. They say how important it is to save your money, and not spend it all right away, while also explaining about banks, budgets, and even interest.
Featuring detailed computer-generated images, fun made-up words, and important financial lessons, Planet Zeee and the Money Tree is a book that both parents and kids will love. The financial fun doesn’t have to end there, however.
Save Your Game (And Your Money)
In addition to the book, Ally has created a Jeopardy-style game called What’s Zeee Answer around money concepts and the characters from Planet Zeee. Players can have between one and four teams, and can choose questions from categories called “Responsible Money Choices,” “Making Plans With Money,” “Earning Money,” and “Thinking About Savings.” After getting a question right or wrong, points can be added or subtracted from a team’s score.
What kind of questions are included in the game? Ally has made it easy for even young children to answer. What’s Zeee Answer has true or false questions, such as “True or False? I’m too young to earn money,” and multiple-choice questions, such as “What are some large purchases that you may want to make when you are older that you will need to save money for?” with answers like “A. Buying a house.; B. Buying a car.; C. Paying for college.; or D. All of these things.” These easy questions still encourage children to think about their financial future and ways that saving and budgeting might benefit them. The game also goes over terms not introduced in the book, such as Taxes, Salary, and Income. This is a perfect way for your child to test their knowledge, and if you’re a teacher or educator, this game can make for a fun classroom lesson!
Making your Kids Money-Smart
Books and games are a great place to start, but how can you get your child to put their new financial skills to work? A great place to begin is a simple piggy bank. Your child should have a safe place where they can put their money for when they need or want it later. Giving your child an allowance or having them help with small jobs can also teach them the value of money and hard work. If they really want a new toy, they can learn how to earn money, save it, and eventually buy it, instead of spending their money as soon as they get it. And once your child is old enough, you can help them get their own savings account, where their money can earn interest. In a blog post, Ally explores the different savings account options for children, including custodial accounts, Trust Agreements, and joint accounts.
RateZip’s financial literacy guide lists even more ways for your children to become money smart. Thinking out loud about the financial decisions you make can show your kids what factors to consider when buying something. This can also be a great way to show your children the difference between needing something and wanting something. Also include your children when determining what purchases to make if you can. One way to do this is to give them options and ask what’s best. For example, should you purchase name brand cereal for more, or store brand cereal for less? What other concepts do you consider when purchasing food (like taste, healthy ingredients, etc.)? Which food do you need and which food do you want?
Explaining where your money comes from and how you access it when you use a credit card or ATM can also help your children. When you use a credit card, let your child know that you have to pay for it later, and that you have to be careful not to spend more than you can afford to pay back. Kids are often smarter than we give them credit for (no pun intended), and they can soak up new words and concepts like a sponge. Get them used to talking about money early so that it’s not a challenge in the future.
Kids and Money - We're Not Kidding
What else can banks do to help your children become money masters? Reach out to your local bank – many have special events targeted towards families and children. Bring your children with you when you go to the bank and tell them why you’re going. (Plus, many banks have treats for kids, like lollipops or candy, which may be enough to make your children want to come back again!) And, of course, keep yourself educated on financial topics. Many banks have blogs or newsletters that you can read to stay up to date with what’s happening in the financial world. You can check out Ally’s blog here.
It’s never too early to start teaching your children smart spending habits. By mastering the concepts of earning, saving, and budgeting early, you’re helping your kids set the groundwork for a stable and successful financial future.